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FOOD + DRINK

Upstate New York's Arrowood Farms Beer

From homegrown organic hops to incredible artisanal beers

by David Graver
on 09 November 2016

Consumers today are wondering more and more where their food and beverages come from. Transparency is key, sustainability is valued, and passion is a plus. All of this can be found at the rather idyllic Arrowood Farms in upstate New York. And, as the reach of their very tasty range of seasonal beers extends, it's valuable to dig deeper into the team behind it all. It seems as if no detail has been left unconsidered: they employ solar energy, heritage breed ducks fertilize the six varieties of organic hops grown on-site, they keep bees for natural pollination and honey production, and heritage breed pigs consume all the hop waste. From this all, Blake Arrowood and partner Jacob Meglio have succeeded in producing an environmentally responsible line of beers. Fortunately, they also taste great.

Before we go deeper into the beer offerings, it's important to make clear that the farm comes first. According to Arrowood, "The farm is our foundation and how we wanted to build ourselves and our business. It's fundamental to everything. With that, in choosing what animals to start raising along with the hops and creating sustainability with solar energy, we were conscious of this foundation. There was no other way to do." He notes that things came together bit by bit, all working toward a greater vision for what Arrowood Farms would become. Meglio affirms this, "We go one step at a time, basing our direction on our ethos. With the farm in particular there is an agricultural philosophy that we are trying to adhere to." The farm has been in development for three years now. The beer commenced a year and a half into that.

We want to inform everyone about why we do this and why we do it this way. We are encouraging the conversation with those who buy the product

Arrowood and Meglio designed the brewery and tasting room, which has been active for six months now. Thus far, they've felt a strong, positive response from their region. Meglio says they reached out to the farming community around them. Both the town and county were supportive, including with positive craft beer legislation. Beyond that, they "put a ton of effort into getting people to see the farm. We want to inform everyone about why we do this and why we do it this way. We are encouraging the conversation with those who buy the product." It may only be 90 miles away from NYC, but it does feel like another world—and an inclusive one at that. It's not just a destination to appreciate, but one requiring participation.

As for the beer's production process, Meglio shares, "I would say that one thing differentiates us from other breweries. We don’t design our beers by choosing the outcome first. We look around at what we have in season, what's fresh and available, and that directs us. We have the farm as the foundation that informs our recipe development." Meglio makes clear that their history of brewing is more their history of agricultural development. While it seems like a new idea, it's a very old one: new styles of beer emerged based on the freshness of available ingredients. Tangibly, this manifest in a recent honey porter because they'd just harvested honey for the season. For their Octoberfest, they harvested grains one week and brewed the next. "Freshness makes all the difference in craft beer," he adds. With all the micro-brew experimental beers out there, we have to agree.

"You can have a world-class beer and not break the bank. It's accessible. There's an allure to good beer, but also an inclusiveness. You can come and try it all, even if you're a wine-drinker—or a Coors-drinker," Arrowood adds. He had moved from NYC up to a farming internship down the road. The former landlord of the farmland he now grows upon is a business partner at Arrowood Farms. Arrowood himself heads up agriculture on site while Meglio spearheads the brewery.

The transition from farming to brewing has been a learning process—aided by the fact that Arrowood and Meglio were home-brewers and Meglio having had a light concentration in chemistry in college. "It came in handy," he says, "But we also did tons of research, read books, and did extensive planning. Still though, there were lessons you learn along the way by doing it with a steadfast determination." The American Brown Ale was the first recipe they developed and both state that it's perfect for the present season. That said, a new porter is coming along just in time for winter and it's worth keeping an eye out for.

Arrowood Farms is located at 236 Lower Whitfield Rd, Accord NY 12404. Their tasting room opens Friday from 5-9PM, Saturday from 12-8PM and Sunday 12-6PM.

Images courtesy of Arrowood

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